The Bell Jar Feminism

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Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar sets itself amongst the experiences in the life of a young woman, Esther in a male-dominated society. It has been open for debate due to the controversial themes discussed and the honest way Plath discusses them. One of these themes includes feminism and Plath’s supporting views on the subject by utilizing characters and scenes from her novel to provide the strong commentary on American women seen in the novel.

The most unique woman present in the novel is Doreen. I think Doreen is a very powerful woman despite she doesn’t uphold any particularly powerful job. Despite her being sharp at times, she held certain attitudes throughout the novel that lead me to be in favour of her, just as Esther
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In The Bell Jar, Esther’s mother Mrs Greenwood has a major influence in her mind. Although Esther doesn’t describe her often and we don’t know much about Mrs Greenwood, I know she encourages and accepts her daughter’s desires to be a poet or a teacher. However, she will only accept Esther’s ambitions as long as they don’t impede her domestic duties, hence she too encourages Esther to learn shorthand “My own mother wasn't much help. My mother had taught shorthand and typing to support us (…) She was always onto me to learn shorthand after college, so I'd have a practical skill as well as a college degree.” (p. 21). Though Mrs Greenwood loves her daughter and does everything for her wellbeing, her pressuring Esther into accepting the conformities for women in the 50’s takes a huge part in Esther’s mental breakdown. These demands conflict Esther’s mind, she worries taking the traditional role of a mother and wife will inflict her desire to be a poet. This is why I believe Esther despises Mrs Greenwood; she represents traditional expectations for women, expectations Esther is determined to reject and attempting to overcome. The message I’ve collected from the character of Mrs Greenwood is one of a ‘perfect’ woman; working hard for men and raising her children, a role expected of women. Using Esther, I believe Plath is trying to convey the acceptability for a woman to follow her ambitions without having to get married or …show more content…
He is Esther’s first boyfriend and in Esther’s opinion, a hypocrite. In the beginning of the novel Buddy comes out as a perfect man, he’s going to Yale, medical school and he is athletic. Eventually Esther finds out about Buddy’s affair with a waitress and this is when his character is fully uncovered, to both Esther and me. I noticed he represents the hypocrisy of men in general. When Esther remembers an article her mother sent, about how a young woman should conserve her virginity for her husband she says "I couldn't stand the idea of a woman having to have a single pure life and a man being able to have a double life, one pure and one not" (p. 43). The article displayed a double standard in society where men can do anything without criticism, whilst women have to carry responsibilities and blame. By the end of the book the reader recognizes buddy as a shallow character, he makes Esther feel inferior to him and he doesn’t respect her desire to be a poet, nor any interest for what her sexual desires may be (he abruptly undressed in front of her so that she could ‘see’ a man). “I also remembered Buddy Willard saying in a sinister, knowing way that after I had children I would feel differently, I wouldn't want to write poems any more. So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being

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